The Agricultural Drainage and Pesticide Transport (ADAPT) model was applied on the 7,719 ha Seven Mile Creek, an agricultural watershed in southern Minnesota, USA. Annual flow and nitrate-N losses were simulated using agricultural management practices typical of three different periods (1967, 1978, and 2001) in combination with two climatic scenarios (actual versus recent). The actual climatic pattern scenarios involved weather data for the four years surrounding the date of agricultural management data (e.g. 1965-1969 for 1967). The recent climatic pattern scenarios involved weather data from 1999-2003, which is a wetter period than the 1965-1969 or 1976-1980 climatic periods.
Simulation results showed that the recent wetter climatic would have caused a 70 and 51% increase in flow for management conditions typical of 1967 and 1978, respectively. Similarly, the wetter climate would have caused a 62 and 137% increase in nitrate-N losses for 1967 and 1978 management conditions, respectively. We conclude from the analysis that the most important factor that increased nitrate-N losses from agricultural landscapes to surface waters during 1978-2001 periods was an increasingly wetter climate rather than changes in agricultural management practices. In contrast, the most important change that increased nitrate-N losses from agricultural lands to surface waters during 1967-1978 periods was changes in agricultural management practices.